Public rejects LibCon Coalition candidates in three opinion surveys
For those who were away from their computer screens over the weekend allow me to summarise three polls that dealt a triple blow to the idea of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems fighting on joint tickets at the next election:
- The idea was rejected in an Angus Reid poll: "While the merged party would hold on to four-in-five voters who cast a ballot for a Conservative candidate in 2010 (83%), only one third of Liberal Democrat voters in 2010 (32%) would support a joint Tory/Lib-Dem candidate. In fact, almost half of them (46%) would vote for Labour instead."
- The idea was rejected in a Sunday Times/ YouGov poll: "YouGov asked what people’s reaction would be to a Con/LD pact at the next election. Only 12% of Conservative voters would be in favour and only 21% of Liberal Democrats. A full merger between the parties was even less popular, only 8% of each party’s voters backed the idea."
- The idea was rejected in a poll, commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, of 1,503 voters in Oldham East and Saddleworth: Labour would beat a joint Coalition candidate by 5%.
ANDREW MARR: "Can I just ask you about one specific area, well two specific areas? First of all, an awful lot of your MPs would be relieved and pleased to hear you say that there are absolutely no circumstances which, come the next election, there will be coalition candidates; that the Conservative Party is going to fight the next election only as the Conservative Party and strive to win the next election as the Conservative Party by itself?"
DAVID CAMERON: "Of course, that is … Absolutely."
ANDREW MARR: "Absolutely right."
DAVID CAMERON: "We're going to fight the election as a … You know we are an independent party. We're fighting this by-election as an independent party. We'll fight the General Election as independent parties."
ANDREW MARR: "Okay, well that's clear."
Some say that joint candidates were never a real possibility but it's clear that some were (and are) advocating a continuing alliance. It is good that David Cameron has ruled out the possibility and a big hat tip to Mark Pritchard MP for confronting the issue.
The challenge ahead is to build a Mainstream Conservatism - manifesto and machine - that can win the next election. There has been foot dragging on this. Not fighting Oldham properly. Not building a policy operation. An unwillingness to face up to the failure to win the last election. More on all this very soon.